Book: The First Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha

The First Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha
Lloyd Alexander
1978

This is an interesting fantasy from Alexander. It is about a boy who lets a street magician perform a trick on him that transports him to a far away and possibly not real country where he is lauded as king for arriving in the right place at the right time. He then dives head first into the deep end of the political and military issues concerning the country, surprising himself as much as anyone else. What results is political intrigue, attempted assassination, war and wild adventure. The story is funny and rather sad at the same time.

As always, Alexander’s writing and story construction is superb. The book was enjoyable to read, even when the plot got a little slow. The story is very interesting, particularly in it’s rather novel technique for getting the kid to the “dream” realm. The use of the untrustworthy street magician and the uncertainty about the permanence or transience of the new realm are particularly interesting. The idea that Lukas-Kasha may end up king of this far off kingdom forever, or might get pulled out any minute (and if he is pulled out, it is unclear if he will return home or find himself in another new place entirely) adds a dimension to the story that is never very far from the surface of the reader’s thoughts.

The plot is interesting and generally more politically driven (in the story sense, not the relating-to-the-real-world sense) than his fantasy stories usually are. I really liked that the story was driven almost exclusively by character development. That is a choice few writers of children’s books make and Alexander shows how good a story of this type can be. I really liked the way he ended the book, which at that point did surprise me in a way, but it also made me very sad. I couldn’t help feeling really bad for Lukas.

This is a fun book. It isn’t my favourite of Alexander’s books, but it is unique and interesting. I would definitely recommend it!

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